A Quiet Place: Day One Drama

Review: ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ Shifts the Franchise from Horror to Character Drama, with Mixed Results

June 27, 2024Ben MK

A cinematic exercise in auditory minimalism, John Krasinski's A Quiet Place was as tense and suspenseful as movies come. The story of one family's struggle to survive an invasion by animalistic aliens that hunt by sound, its simple and unique premise made it one of the most compelling horror films in recent memory. It's a formula Krasinski himself replicated for the 2020 sequel, A Quiet Place: Part II; and now, the actor-turned-filmmaker has handed over the franchise reins to writer-director Michael Sarnoski, in this character-driven prequel about the day our planet changed forever.

Set in New York City, the story follows Samira (Lupita Nyong'o) and Eric (Joseph Quinn), two complete strangers whose paths might have never crossed were it not for the cataclysmic events about to unfold. A terminal cancer patient living at a hospice located just outside of Manhattan and a law student from Kent, England, respectively, Sam and Eric find their fates intertwined when a barrage of fiery meteors carrying the hostile alien creatures turn the Big Apple into a war zone. What happens next, however, will make the initial shock and awe of the aliens' arrival seem like a walk in Central Park. Forced to stay as silent as possible in order to avoid arousing the attention of their extraterrestrial attackers, the pair must figure out a way to make their way across the city to the ships docked at the nearest seaport waiting to take them to safety. But with the alien predators ready to pounce on the slightest noise, will they have any actual hope of reaching their destination?

Getting some much needed help along the way from a fellow New Yorker named Henri (Djimon Hounsou, reprising his role from A Quiet Place: Part II), Sam — with her trusty cat, Frodo, in tow — is no stranger to death. Having lost her father some years ago to the same disease that has afflicted her, she's been using her talent for poetry to slowly come to grips with her own mortality. Meanwhile, Eric, whose adult life has basically only just begun, is significantly more anxious and fearful about meeting an untimely demise. It's this pairing of opposing personalities that ends up being the source of much of the dramatic tension in A Quiet Place: Day One. For viewers more used to the edge-of-your-seat thrills of the first two installments, however, this shift in the series' tone from vicious creature feature to character-focused storytelling might be just a little too jarring to handle.

Of course, that's not to say the result is completely lacking in the terrifying, spine-tingling moments that so well characterized its predecessors. On the contrary, the movie's depiction of the aliens' opening onslaught against the unsuspecting citizens of New York and a harrowing mid-way set piece in which the creatures chase a panicked Sam and Eric through a glass-paned office complex are undoubtedly some of the series’ most compelling sequences. For the most part, though, A Quiet Place: Day One prefers to spend its running time dealing with more grounded matters — chronicling the burgeoning friendship between Sam and Eric, and showcasing how they're able to help one another overcome their individual traumas and personal demons.

It all adds up a vastly different beast compared to Krasinski's first two chapters. And while the tonal shift might prove refreshing to some, those who go into A Quiet Place: Day One expecting something significantly more action-packed will be severely disappointed. Chalk it up to misleading marketing or a franchise venturing beyond its established boundaries; either way, the is one prequel that's guaranteed to divide fans.

A Quiet Place: Day One releases June 28th, 2024 from Paramount Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for terror and violent content/bloody images. Its runtime is 1 hr. 40 min.

You May Also Like